How to Improve Breaststroke Technique

How to Improve Breaststroke Technique

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A bad breaststroke can slow your swim down and put stress on your joints.

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

For swimmers, the benefits of the breaststroke range far and wide. At about 60 calories per 10 minutes, this technique burns slightly fewer calories than other styles, but it's excellent for toning the body as it works the chest, thighs, shoulders, hams and triceps. Proper form goes a long way with any swimming technique. To maximize the cardiovascular and toning results of your breaststroke, honing your form is absolutely key.


Focus on your head position -- keeping your head above water is a common mistake that is detrimental to proper breaststroke form and may even cause neck and back injuries. Always keep your head in the water. If you lift your head, your hips drop into the water, which increases your drag and strains your lower back. Only raise your head out of the water to breathe.


Stop your hands before they go behind your shoulders as you're propelling your body forward. You may think you're getting more out of your breaststroke with long, sweeping hand motions, but stopping short actually improves your speed. When you're moving your hands forward, however, stretch them out as far as you can. Keep your palms facing out rather than letting your hands lie flat for more effective sculling. Your arms should never leave the water when swimming with a breaststroke technique, nor should they cause a splash.


Correct your foot position. Always point your toes toward the bottom of the pool and keep your heels together for as long as you can as you bring your legs toward your body for a kick. Keep your legs level with your body -- don't bring them underneath you -- and bring your heels back together immediately after your kick for an effective finish. Once you kick off, simply allow your body to glide until your next kick.


  • Warm up with a front crawl or backstroke before going into your breaststroke regimen. This loosens your body up and helps prevent knee and back pain, allowing you to focus on nailing your breaststroke technique.

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